Pay us, ex-Mumias workers tell Sarrai Group
What you need to know:
- Ex-employees demanding settlement of their outstanding salary arrears amounting to Sh2.3 billion.
- They vowed not to relent in their quest to have the money paid, foreigners allegedly working in Mumias from Uganda and India dismissed and locals hired.
- Sarrai Group Operations Manager Stephen Kihumba said the money they are demanding can only be paid by Mumias Sugar Company Receiver Manager PVR Rao.
Former Mumias Sugar Company employees are once again up in arms with Sarrai Group, demanding the latter to settle their outstanding salary arrears amounting to Sh2.3 billion.
Under the Mumias Sugar Factory Workers Association, they vowed not to relent in their quest to have the money paid, foreigners allegedly working in Mumias from Uganda and India dismissed and locals hired.
The former employees, led by their Chairman Patrick Mutimba and Secretary General Vitalis Makokha, said the national government has turned a deaf ear and a blind eye to their grievances, adding that they too are Kenyans who deserve to be listened to.
The workers were responding to Sarrai Group Operations Manager Stephen Kihumba who last week said the money they are demanding can only be paid by Mumias Sugar Company Receiver Manager PVR Rao.
“Strikes by people who portray themselves to be employees of Mumias Sugar Company are meant to paint us in bad light,” Mr Kihumba said.
“These people worked for the former management and we – Sarrai Group – don’t know them anything. The association is directing its concerns to the wrong management and administration.”
The remarks did not go down well with officials and members of the association.
According to Mr Mutimba and Mr Makokha, Sarrai Group was to pay off debts and embark on revival plans for Mumias Sugar Company after the takeover.
“ It is a shame when Mr Kihumba says the receiver manager should pay our arrears when it is Sarrai who promised to do so,” Mr Mutimba told a press conference in Mumias.
“We shall never get tired of demanding what rightfully belongs to the former workers. I have no doubt that someone in the national government who cares will take up our matter since we too have families.”
He criticised Mr Kihumba for telling leaders in Kakamega County to keep off Mumias Sugar Company affairs.
The former workers said it is difficult for the management of Sarrai to stop politicians from speaking about Mumias.
“It is in the public domain that Sarrai Group was unveiled during a public rally at Bukhungu stadium in Kakamega. What has changed now that they are telling politicians to keep off when we ask for our arrears?” Mr Mutimba asked.
The former employees vowed to continue demanding their money, besides fighting for the hiring of locals by the sugar company.
“Sarrai Group should know that Kenyans who steered Mumias Sugar Company to its glory are here demanding their arrears. Their sons and daughters are languishing in joblessness and poverty and need to be considered for employment,” Mr Mutimba said.
Beacon of hope
At its peak, Mumias Sugar Company milled 8,000 tonnes of cane a day.
The factory was the beacon of hope for Western Kenya, turning Mumias and several other towns vibrant.
The miller has begun producing sugar that is packaged in 50kg bags for sale to wholesalers after being dormant for many years.
The company has sustained a crushing capacity of 1,500 to 2,000 tonnes of cane per day since it resumed operations two months ago.
In the same period, Mumias Sugar Company has been on a test run, putting its brands in the competitive market.